UNION – There is no home-court advantage in wrestling, but competing on a familiar maroon and gold mat made the occasion extra-special for Cody Huston.
Huston was able to keep one of the 14 first-place medals in the building Feb. 14, as the Cooper High School sophomore won the program’s first-ever regional championship during the KHSAA Region 6 meet at Cooper.
Huston edged Joey Scaggs of Dixie Heights 4-3 in a dramatic final at 120 pounds. Huston and his coaches raised their arms in triumph as Jaguar teammates watched and cheered.
“It’s amazing. It’s a big crowd and it gets me pumped up,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work and training and believing in my coaches.”
Huston improved his record to 34-1 and will compete in the state tournament beginning Friday at Lexington’s Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I didn’t want to get too overwhelmed with the points. I knew I was down 2-0, but I just kept my mind forward,” Huston said. “I lost to him my freshman but this year I’ve beaten him two times now.”
Cooper earned its first-ever top-three finish with 138.5 points. The Jaguars’ best previous finish in the program’s seven-year history was fourth. They were sixth last year.
The Jaguars had six other state qualifiers, with the seven being the most in team history. Kyle Steiner was runner-up at 132. Four Jaguars finished third, Zach Holub (24-4) at 106, Jordan Monroe (38-4) at 126, Andrew Bailey (40-3) at 145, and Jordan Kidwell (42-8) at 152. Noah Wolf (24-16) was fourth at 285.
Ryle crowned four individual champions and will send eight overall to state. Winners were Logan Erdman (126), Jon Belk (152), Johnny Meiman (160) and Ryan Woolf (170). Woolf won 8-1 in his final. Belk and Meiman won by fall and Erdman by forfeit.
Erdman, Belk and Meiman repeated as champions. Erdman won last year at 120 pounds. Belk won again at 152. Meiman won at 170 last year. Woolf improved his record to 57-12, for the most wins among Saturday’s 14 individual champions. Belk and Meiman have 55 wins each and Erdman is 43-4.
“We were ahead by three or four points at one point, but Campbell County’s got too many wrestlers,” Ryle coach Tim Ruschell said. “They earned it, and we got second.”
Finishing runner-up was Jack Dorne at 145. He is 47-17. Also, Benjamin Lippert at 195, who is 47-15.
Aaron Brossart finished fourth at 106 and is 42-22. Clint Chaffee placed fourth at 132 (34-17).
Other weight-division champions included Walton-Verona’s Ryan Moore (113) and Mason Smith (132). Moore, 39-6 on the year, won two matches by fall and 6-3 in the finals over Campbell County’s Brady Wells. Smith, 42-9, had two pins and two lopsided wins by score.
The Walton-Verona Bearcats had five state qualifiers overall. Finishing runner-up was Blake Roth at 106 (36-14). Jake Peace finished fourth at 126 and is 33-15. Braden Mulcahy (5-2) finished fourth at 138.
Conner had three state qualifiers. Derek Wiley was second at 138 and is 42-11 on the season. Tristin Badida was also second, at 152, and is 42-7. Josh VanStrien finished fourth at 220 and is 25-25 for the year.
Boone County will send two wrestlers to the state meet.
Ahmad Hameidan finished second at 220 and is 47-9 for the season. He lost 22-6 to Campbell County senior Austin Myers, who is undefeated in his Kentucky career. Hameidan is one of the few who has not been pinned by Myers this season.
Chris Vaske finished fourth at 120 and is 44-15 for the season.
Follow James Weber on Twitter, @JWeberSports